Despite the progress we’ve made keeping our nation’s drivers and passengers safe, we still face the challenge of protecting our newest—and most vulnerable drivers. In 2007, 3,174 teenage drivers were killed and nearly 252,000 were injured in crashes—the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
As part of our efforts to address this problem, the Department has partnered with the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) on a nationwide competition that challenged teens to develop ad campaigns that will help spread the message of traffic safety to their peers. We think teens are more likely to get the message about safety and awareness when it comes from other teens, and were thrilled to provide passionate students with the opportunity to reach out to their friends in new ways.
Today, I announced the competition winners. The winning campaign, developed by Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School from Gibson City, Illinois will be used as part of 2009’s National Youth Traffic Safety Month. In second place was Anoka High School of Anoka, Minnesota, while third place went to Clifton High School of Clifton, Illinois.
The three finalists received first, second and third place grants of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000. Prize money will be used to support traffic safety activities or to provide scholarships to acknowledge student leadership in traffic safety programs.
Out of the initial 34 entries, these three teams demonstrated hard work, commitment, creativity and enthusiasm for safety issues. They created dynamic PSAs, brought in guest speakers and hosted information sessions, engaged peers, adults and in some cases, other local communities. Their efforts resulted in an inspiring and renewed commitment to working together as a community to prevent the needless deaths of young people on local roads. I am very proud of their efforts and again congratulate them on their success.
Taking a note from the successful launch of the Fast Lane, the Department is striving to reach teens in new and innovate ways. We have used the social networking website Facebook to develop a pilot teen-oriented Group called Keys To Drive. The Group will be a place where teens can connect and share safe-driving tips, advocacy strategies and real-life stories.
Thanks to all the great kids who put so much work into their projects. Their work is saving lives. Here is a brief description of the three finalists’ projects:
First Place Winner- Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School, Gibson City, IL
The campaign, titled License to Live, uses television and radio PSA’s to urge seat belt use, bicycle and railroad safety in their community. GCMS’s License to Live youth leader Eric Sommer also worked with local officials to raise awareness about dangerous intersections in their area, and has been successful in making helpful changes.
Second Place Winner- Anoka High School, Anoka, Minnesota
Anoka High School’s Get the 411 on Teen Drivers! Stay Connected! Save Teen Lives! campaign focuses on graduated licensing and seatbelt laws. The school hosted Teen Driver 411 week, during which they made presentations to four Driver’s Education programs along with AAA.
Third Place Winner- Clifton Central High School, Clifton, IL
Clifton Central High School’s Operation Safer Teens (CO$T) started their campaign, Get Put it on. Put it away. Just slow down. Say no way., by purchasing two speed limit signs for both entrances of their high school and middle school complex. To spread their message, the team hung banners at football games, sponsored a door decorating contest, and an artwork contest with the school’s Art Club. CO$T has sponsored a Child Safety Seat check program, and has hosted an Alive at 25 Parent Program.